Following a legend in any job is never easy — especially when that legend will still be working down the hall from you.
On Wednesday Dominick Stasi was named to succeed Jennifer Lyons as news director of WGN-Channel 9 following Nexstar Media Group’s promotion of Lyons to vice president of news for WGN America. Lyons will oversee “News Nation,” a three-hour nightly newscast to premiere this summer on the Chicago-based cable network.
Except for a brief interlude in 2018, Lyons held the top job since 2014 and has been credited with much of the station's success as a broadcast news leader. In May she'll be inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
"Never in my wildest dreams," Lyons told Facebook friends at the end of a life-changing day. "Super excited for this new project. Love my WGN family and happy to be doing this at Bradley Place!"
For Stasi, 40, the elevation from executive producer to news director comes just as WGN increased its output of news to a prodigious 72½ hours each week. No other local station comes close to that.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be at the helm of WGN News,” Stasi said. “I learned from the best in Jen and I look forward to continuing the great journalism tradition of ‘Chicago’s Very Own.’”
A native of Canton, Illinois, and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stasi began his career at KSPR, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Missouri, and WDJT, the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee.
He came to Chicago in 2006 as a producer for CLTV, the former cable news channel owned by Tribune Broadcasting, and later worked for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. In 2013 he rejoined Tribune Broadcasting — this time as executive producer of WGN’s 5 and 9 p.m. newscasts.
In announcing Stasi's promotion Wednesday, Paul Rennie, vice president and general manager of WGN, called him "the perfect fit for the job.” He specifically cited Stasi's role in the expansion of the station's evening newscasts, election night coverage and such major projects as the investigation of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Wednesday’s comments of the day: David Stewart: Excuse my skepticism, but where’s the need and who is the potential audience? Will it be original content generated by a staff of reporters, producers and writers based here? Or will it be a repackaging of clickbait video gathered from Nexstar stations around the country?
Bob Roberts: I say give it a chance. I am not sure many of those commenting understand the concept, repackaging local reports from dozens of co-owned stations, but the hiring of 120 people means that won't be all the newscast will offer. Content undoubtedly will have some Chicago flavor but it will not be another WGN-TV newscast. Those who want to hear nothing but the "pundits" available on other channels who agree with a viewer's personal viewpoint won't like this but many others will. I can't wait to see it.